Analysis, Features

Art of marketing

martin hesterJuniper Networks recently hosted its ‘Partner Marketing Academy’ get-together in Amsterdam for a selection of its prized channel partners from the EMEA region. We bring you the highlights of the event. 

It’s clear that Juniper Networks is taking the time to reach out to those it holds dear in the channel. The Partner Marketing Academy event was designed as a training course and forum for partners to develop their marketing competencies in a number of aspects, including social media and the act of balancing scientific and artistic approaches.
In from the firm’s HQ in California, Matt Hurley, Corporate Vice President, Global Partner and Field Marketing, described how there were three main pillars in helping Juniper’s channel partners – enablement, ease of doing business, and growth.
The company has undertaken the process of realigning its partner tiering system. Three tiers currently exist – Elite, Select and Reseller – and the number of Elite partners has recently been reduced from 700 to 400. Hurley said the process has provided greater clarity to the firm’s partnering strategy. “Although we have made changes to what constitutes an Elite partner, we haven’t ultimately made big changes to the programme,” Hurley said. “Last year, we were having a very different discussion, but we now believe we have the solid foundations to push on.”
Hurley added that the changes had not caused any negative impact. “We’ve seen no reduction in revenue as a result of the change,” he said. “It’s a positive evolution of the programme, and has allowed us to really define who our elite partners are; those with whom we have a deep level of engagement.”
Juniper has also combined its services and product partner programmes, and Hurley said the firm intended to introduce simplicity to the structure. “Over the last five or 10 years, it’s become a badge of honour to be classed as Elite, but we didn’t do a great job of distinguishing those who were the very best. We want to build a level of trust with partners so that we can get feedback and try to do what you want to make your jobs easier.” Hurley added how the key themes for partners would continue to be cloud, data centre and intelligent networks.
Martin Hester, Director, Distribution and Partner Operations, EMEA, emphasised how services models would be the differentiator in driving value for customers. “Service-led sales is where the market is heading,” he said. “The data centre is a key priority for us in 2015/16 – it’s all about automation and how the software-defined data centre can be developed. Building data centre stacks with partners allows for more professional services and IP for end-user value. This is about business outcomes, deploying and managing the business differently.”
As well as providing the necessary briefings to the firm’s channel partner strategies, Juniper enlisted a roster of speakers who were charged with driving home several key marketing lessons. Chief among them was the importance of striking a balance between scientific means, powered by technology – and in particular Big Data – and traditional, instinctive action that is required by all successful marketers.
The firm’s EMEA marketing vice president David Silke got the ball rolling by addressing the importance of striking a balance between a creative and mathematical approach to marketing. “It’s about using both artistic and scientific methods to drive strategy,” he said.
Silke went on to underline how the importance of digital business models was having a transformational effect on the marketer’s role. “Digital culture has transformed the marketer’s job. Change is now happening in months, not decades. Marketers need to understand changes to revenue models and grasp the use of intelligence – a scientific aspect. For every conversation concerning sales and customers, you need real-time data, and be able to take a ‘I know this will work because I have facts’ approach. That being said, it is also the marketer’s job to drive how the customer feels, and this means having traditional ‘softer’ competencies.”
John Watton, Marketing Director, Adobe Marketing Cloud addressed how the “gut-driven” fundamentals of marketing remained essential, but could be reinforced with the underlying statistics on offer. “Marketing is now a question of ‘right time, right place,” he said. “It has historically been a creative function, but it is also now a strong maths game. Putting numbers on the table gives balance and credibility to marketing, underpinned with an understanding of numbers.” Watton added how enterprise customers often preferred softer competencies when it came to purchasing decisions. “Very rarely does a product that scores high on functionality win – B2B buyers cite reasons like ‘you understood our business’ ‘you were reliable’ or ‘we liked you’ more than they do product benefits,” he said. “Brand fundamentals do still matter. Technology alone will never solve marketing challenges, and the emotional side of marketing remains as important in B2B.”

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